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Alabama Governor Apologizes To Indian Government After Police Partially Paralyze Man

Sureshbhai Patel, of India, was visiting family in Alabama when he was pushed to the ground by a police officer responding to a reported of a "suspicious" person. Gov. Robert Bentley later issued a letter of apology to the Indian government.

Last updated on February 17, 2015, at 7:18 p.m. ET

Posted on February 11, 2015, at 3:41 p.m. ET

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley apologized to the Indian government for "the unfortunate use of excessive force by the Madison Police," the Associated Press reported Tuesday. In a letter to Indian general consul Ajit Kumar, Bentley also called the altercation that left Sureshbhai Patel, 57, injured and partially paralyzed a "tragic incident."

Bentley's office released the letter Tuesday.

Patel ended up hospitalized after the Feb. 11 altercation, which was captured on two police dashcams. His attorney said he left the hospital Monday.

"He has a long, difficult, and uncertain rehabilitation process ahead of him, and he and his family deeply appreciate the outpouring of prayers and support he has received," his attorney told the AP.

Officer Eric Parker was arrested and charged with assault, according to ABC News. The Madison, Alabama police chief, Larry Muncey, said that he recommended Parker be fired.

As reported:

Chief Larry Muncey told a small press conference in Madison that... [Patel] committed no crime, did not speak English and could not understand the commands.

Muncey said "I found that Officer Eric Parker's actions did not meet the high standards and expectations of the Madison City Police Department."

Five members of the local Indian community sat in the front row, along with Indian Consul Anil Kumar, to watch the video from the patrol cars and listen to the non-emergency call that led to the violent confrontation.

Audio of the call to police was released.

Video from two police dash cameras has surfaced. The video shows officers asking Patel questions he appears not to understand, then pushing him to the ground.

View this video on YouTube

Indian government Thursday pressured the United States to launch a deeper investigation into the incident.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbarbuddin told Agence France Presse, "we expressed concern at what appears from media reports as the excessive use of force by police."

He added that officials in New Delhi had already "requested expeditious investigations and sharing of investigations," and urged the U.S. to take further action.

This morning, reported that the Alabama Media Group had filed an open records request to the Madison Police Department to release the video and audio files of the encounter.

Madison Police Chief Marry Muncey has already confirmed that the records exist, and that the investigation will be concluded by week's end.

On Wednesday morning, Patel was visiting his newborn grandson in Alabama and was hospitalized with a spinal injury after being pushed to the ground by a police officer in the city of Madison.

Indian citizen stopped by Madison police for walking on sidewalk, left partly paralyzed. Huntsville@ALcomHuntsvilleFollow

Indian citizen stopped by Madison police for walking on sidewalk, left partly paralyzed.

3:48 PM - 10 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

Patel, who was on his morning walk, was stopped by an officer responding to a report of a "suspicious person" in the neighborhood on Tuesday, reported.

The caller told police that a man, who he did not recognize, was walking onto driveways and looking into garages, the Madison Police Department said in a statement.

Sureshbhai Patel, who is from a small town in India, was on his second visit to the U.S. and was staying with his son, Chirag. He told that he had flown his father out so he could help care for his 17-month-old grandson.

Chirag Patel said this father was walking on the sidewalk, "minding his own business," when the police car showed up and asked him to stop. Patel, who does not speak English, told the officer, "No English," "Indian" and gave them his son's house number while pointing to the house, Chirag said.

The officer then pushed him to the ground, after which Patel's body was temporarily paralyzed. He was hospitalized with a spinal injury.

According to Madison police, "the subject did not appear to speak English and there was a communication barrier. The subject began putting his hands in his pockets. Officers attempted to pat the subject down and he attempted to pull away. The subject was forced to the ground, which resulted in injury."

In an emotional interview with, Chirag said the doctors have told him his father is going to take a long time to recover.


"This is a good neighborhood," Chirag said. "I am devastated that this could happen."

He said his father did not look suspicious and he did not walk on to other people's properties during his regular morning walk.

Chirag, an engineer for a government contractor, had bought a new house in the neighborhood only two months ago.

"It was a dream for me," a visibly emotional Chirag said. "I come from a very poor family and I worked so hard here."

Patel has recovered some movement in his arms and legs, but Chirag said the family is not sure if he will be able to make a complete recovery.

In their statement, the Madison Police Department wished Patel "a speedy and full recovery."

The department also said the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards.

"The Madison Police Department takes all use of force incidents seriously and reviews them as a matter of policy," the statement said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.